Thousands of Uyghur children appear to have been left without parents as their mothers or fathers were forced into Chinese internment camps, prisons and other detention centers, evidence from government documents in China shows. Xinjiang.
Records compiled by officials in southern Xinjiang and analyzed by researcher Adrian Zenz indicate that in 2018, more than 9,500 children, mostly Uyghurs, in Yarkand County were classified as “simple hard” or in “double difficulty” depending on whether one or both parents were detained. .
The files, which are part of a cache of documents downloaded in the summer of 2019 from online networks used by local authorities, showed that all children had at least one parent in prison, detention or in a facility. “re-education”. No Han Chinese children were on the list.
Zenz said, “Beijing’s strategy for restraining its reluctant minorities in Xinjiang is moving away from internment and towards long-term social control mechanisms. At the forefront of this effort is a battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation.
Questions and answers
Who are the Uyghurs?
Authorities have reportedly detained more than a million Muslims in re-education camps and other internment camps in the far northwest of the territory. It is part of a campaign that researchers and advocates say aims to wipe out local culture and suppress the growth of the Uyghur population. Chinese officials are defending their policies in the name of poverty reduction and counterterrorism efforts.
Children are often placed in public orphanages or high-security boarding schools where students are closely supervised and almost all lessons and interactions must be conducted in Mandarin instead of their native Uyghur language.
According to Zenz research, a total of 880,500 children – including those whose parents are absent for other reasons – lived in boarding schools in 2019, an increase of about 76% from 2017 with the expansion of internment system in China.
The impact of detentions on children and family structures is one of the least examined aspects of China’s increasingly criticized policy in Xinjiang. Testimonies from people outside of China have revealed what experts see as a systematic policy of family separation.
If Yarkand County figures were extrapolated across the region, up to 250,000 Uyghurs under the age of 15 could have had one or both parents interned, according to The Economist, which first published Zenz’s findings. .
Other files obtained and analyzed by Zenz detailed cases of children in orphanages. A list of 85 “double difficulty” students under 10, whose parents were in a burial center or prison, included a one-year-old child living in an orphanage in Yarkand. In another family, a three-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl were in an orphanage because both parents were in a “re-education” center.
In recent years, spending on education in Xinjiang has overtaken that on security, with schools becoming a critical frontline in the government’s efforts to eliminate the possibility of dissent. Schools often feature multi-level defensive intrusion systems, full coverage surveillance, electric fencing, and computerized patrol systems.
Despite mounting criticism of the alleged abuses in Xinjiang, Beijing appears to have stepped up its strategy with new reports of forced labor and forced sterilization of Uyghur women.
In a speech late last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the region’s governance strategy was “absolutely correct.”
“The sense of gain, happiness and security among people of all ethnic groups continued to increase,” he said.
In response to this report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called Zenz a “notorious gun” for the US government.
“We have said many times that the issue of Xinjiang is not a question of human rights, ethnicity and religion, but a question of combating violence, terrorism and separatism,” a- he said during a regular press briefing on Friday. “This alleged suppression of Muslims and crimes against humanity is a sensational subject invented by anti-Chinese forces with the aim of suppressing China.”